KISS is an American rock band, formed in the mid 1970s in New York City. It is well known for the face paint and complex costumes worn by the bandmembers, and its theatrical concerts, which involve, among other things, fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and lots of pyrotechnics. The most well-known members are frontman Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar; his stage persona is "Starchild", due to being a "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic", a little ironic as he's now Happily Married) and of course Gene Simmons (bass; the "Demon", cynical and fan of dark elements, and also known for his enormous tongue). The two other founding members are the guitarist Ace Frehley (the "Spaceman", a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet) and drummer Peter Criss (the "Catman", in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn.), whose make-ups are still worn by their current replacements, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer (respectively).The band also made a full-length horror film, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). They don't like to talk about it.Not to be confused with kissing, the book Kiss, or the KISS principle.Studio albums:The first makeup period with the original line-up
1974 Hotter Than Hell
1975 Dressed to Kill
1976 Rock and Roll Over
1977 Love Gun
1978 Four self-titled solo albums
1978 - Double Platinum (greatest hits album, with remixed versions of several songs and a re-recorded version of "Strutter")
Late makeup years and decline
1981 Music from "The Elder"
1982 Creatures of the Night
No make-up period
1983 Lick It Up
1987 Crazy Nights
1989 Hot in the Shade
1997 Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions
1998 Psycho Circus
2009 Sonic Boom
1977 Alive II
1993 Alive III
1996 MTV Unplugged: KISS
1996 You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best !!
2003 Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
2004 Kiss Instant Live
2006 Alive! The Millennium Concert (Inside the box set Kiss Alive! 19752000)
Annoying Laugh: Ace. This guy probably has the most recognizable laugh in rock and roll.
Ascended Fan: Tommy Thayer used to be in a Kiss tribute band. He then co-wrote a couple of filler songs for Kiss during The Eighties. Then he was a session musician in the Psycho Circus album. Moreover, he also used to be Kiss' tour manager and Ace Frehley's guitar coach during The Nineties reunion era before finally being made a band member and taking over Frehley's guitar chores.
Apparently their breakthrough album Alive! had guitar overdubs, sound-check songs with the audience added in the studio, and other less-than-live shenanigans (over and above the normal studio mixing and whatnot), to compensate for the quality issues of the original live recording. In his autobiography, Simmons denied this was the case, stating that at that point the band was in a bad financial situation, and their label Casablanca Records was also in dire straits after their double album of Johnny Carson monologues, leaving them with a meagre budget for the album. However, Criss (in his autobiography) and producer Eddie Kramer both claim that the only thing remaining from the original live recordings is Criss' drums, though Kramer at a much earlier period mostly agreed with Simmons that only few overdubs to correct the most obvious mistakes were applied.
Dynasty credits Peter Criss with drums and vocals. In reality, he only played drums on his song, "Dirty Livin'", the rest of the songs being recorded by studio drummer Anton Fig.
Unmasked credits Criss, once again, with drums, percussion, and vocals, while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Shandi" video. In reality, he wasn't involved at all with the recording of the album, with Fig (for a second, uncredited time) taking his place on the recording, while Eric Carr replaced Criss on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
Similary, Creatures of the Night credits Ace Frehley with lead guitars while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Love It Loud" video. In reality, he's completly absent, Bob Kulick, Steve Ferris and Vinnie Vincent played lead guitars on the recording, the latter taking his place on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
Psycho Circus was widely announced as the first studio album in over a decade by the band's original lineup. In reality, only one of the album's songs, "Into the Void", was recorded with all 4 band members, this song being also the only one where Criss actually played drums. Ace Frehley only played lead guitars on three songs and vocals on three other songs. The rest of the songs were recorded with studio musicians Kevin Valentine (drums) and Tommy Thayer (lead guitar; he later pick up the "Spaceman" makeup).
Black Sheep Hit: In the 70's, the radios played Power Ballad "Beth" instead of the A-side "Detroit Rock City" (which didn't stop the latter from becoming one of their anthems).
Cash Cow Franchise: One of the most egregious examples in any medium. They have all kinds of licensed merchandise, including action figures, comic books, condoms, and, last but not least, the infamous Kiss Kaskets (in one of which Dimebag Darrell was buried).
Chorus-Only Song: Hard to find someone who isn't a hard-core fan note or who wasn't a teenager in 1975 who knows the verses for "Rock and Roll All Nite".
Pimped Out Cape: Everyone during the Dynasty period, though Paul and Ace take the cake.
Pretty in Mink: Carr during the Unmasked and Creatures of the Night tours.
Rummage Sale Reject: Most of their outfits in the no-makeup days, when they looked like a lot of other Hair Metal bands. Asylum is perhaps the worst offender: purple gloves, a yellow coat with shoulders covered in gems of every color. Yellow gloves and a purple coat. Gene Simmons in a pink satin bathrobe.
Fun with Acronyms: Subverted. KISS is often spelled in all-caps, and has been rumored to be an acronym, with meanings such as "Knights In Satan's Service" or "Kids In your Sister's Skirt", but has been shown to be false.
Back when the Knights in Satan's Service rumor was all the rage, seeing religious fanatics and the like shouting and screaming quotes from the Old Testament at the group wasn't unheard of. Neither was seeing Gene Simmons (a theology major) quoting them back.
Intercourse with You: A huge portion of their catalog. Notable examples: "Christeen Sixteen" (about a guy lusting after a sixteen year old) to "Hotter Than Hell" (about a guy lusting after a married woman) to "Heaven's On Fire" (about a guy having sex, and may or may not have inspired a large amount of the sex dialog seen in all kinds of fandoms' fanfic sex scenes).
I am the lord of the wastelands A modern-day man of steelnote No reference to Superman intended. I gather darkness to please me And I command you to kneel before the... God of Thunder, and rock n' roll!
Lampshaded Double Entendre: Paul Stanley's stage banter until the reunion was mostly innuendo. He's toned it down somewhat since longtime fans began bringing their kids, but it's still there.
Large Ham: Paul and Gene, for the most part.... and most of that most part is Gene.
Last Note Nightmare: The album version of "Detroit Rock City" ends with a car skidding, crashing and exploding. Then the record segues into "King of the Night Time World".
Not just that, but Paul and Gene have said that they envision that their own stage personas will be filled by other musicians after they retire. They want the band to keep going even after all of the original members are no longer performing.
Long Runner Line Up: The original formation played for 13 non-consecutive years: first from 1972-80, then a reunion from 1996 to 2001 (although as Blatant Lies shows, the reunion was more live than on studio).
Arguably Frehley, as he was electrocuted during an early concert but recovered well enough to finish the show. Since then, the band use wireless guitars (one of the first bands to do so!), and Ace wrote a song about this accident, "Shock Me", which became his vocal debut. Which is fitting, considering that iron conducts electricity...
When KISS was starting and some of their (now famous) concert's antics hadn't been perfected yet, there was one occasion were Simmons accidentally swallowed the (highly toxic) kerosene of his fire breathing stunt. Gene ignored the excruciating abdominal pain and finished the show instead of stopping the concert there and rushing to the hospital. Gene's also set his hair on fire at least once◊ doing his firebreathing stunt.
The Merch: KISS is infamous for plastering their name and faces on anything they can get their hands on. They are probably the only rock band with their own line of caskets.
If you accuse Gene Simmons of being a sellout, he'll just laugh and agree with you wholeheartedly. He has stated several times over the years that the reason he became a rock musician was because he wanted to get rich and get girls.
Asylum was pure Glam Rock and had the band wearing androgynous make-up and outfits.
Revenge was more hard rock and featured darker lyrics than their mid-eighties Hair Metal / Glam Rock output.
Carnival of Souls was a Grunge-inspired, very heavy, metal album.
No Swastikas: Due to German law, the band's usual logo (the band name with the two S characters depicted as lightning bolts) cannot be used in Germany (because the double-S resembles the Schutzstaffel logo). While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that Simmons or Stanley (both being Jewish descendants of concentration camp survivors) intended the logo that way. Hence, the alternative logo with two backwards Z.
One Paul Limit: Stanley Eisen took the stage name Paul Stanley. When guitarist Paul Frehley joined up, he used his nickname 'Ace' as a first name to avoid confusion.
Only One Female Mold: In the cover of Love Gun, as seen here◊. 'They' are based of the wife of Ken Kelly (the painter of this cover, as well as Destroyer's), who served as a model for all the poses.
Real Men Wear Pink: Paul got purple as his main color (look at his jacket in Dynasty!). His Camp Straight behaviour, and the fact he wrote several pop oriented songs ("I Was Made For Lovin' You"...) doesn't help.
Revolving Door Band: And "revolving" is especially true as the members other than Gene and Paul come and go and back.
Rock Trio: KISS has performed as a trio on a couple of occasions - in January 1982 when the band played "I" without Ace, and in 2007 when Paul suffered an irregular heartbeat and elected to not perform.
Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: This trope is seen when you compare the lyrics of songs written by Paul with the lyrics of songs written by Gene. Paul spent decades searching for the woman of his dreams and had his heart famously broken by actress Donna Dixon, while Gene spent decades having sex with every willing woman in his path and denouncing monogamy. Some of the more famous songs written by Paul include "I Want You", "Strutter", "Anything for My Baby", and "Shandi", which are all songs about Paul longing for a woman he can't have. Meanwhile, Gene wrote songs like "Calling Dr. Love", "Christine Sixteen", and "Nothing to Lose" which all have very sexual lyrics.
Sesame Street Cred: One of the hosts of the original version of 3-2-1 Contact had a backstage look at the intricate preparation and management of a concert of the band.
They get one of the best-known in rock when Cheap Trick mentions them in Surrender. During live shows, Cheap Trick would toss KISS albums to their audiences.
They also get mentioned in Weezer's "In the Garage".
Spinoff: All KISS members, both former and current, released albums and formed bands at one point or another with varying degrees of success. Simmons' A**hole, Stanley's Live to Win, Ace Frehley's Frehleys' Comet, Peter Criss' Criss, Mark St. John's White Tiger, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the Eric Singer Project (with Bruce Kulick), Thayer's former group Black n' Blue...
Stage Names: The only members to use their birth names are Tommy Thayer and Bruce Kulick (for starters, the original four all used stage names; Simmons was born Chaim Witz, Paul Stanley is Stanley Harvey Eisen, Ace Frehley's first name is really Paul, and Peter Criss' real name is George Crisscoula). Many members went ahead and used at least one of their birth names for their stage names, though (for example, Vinnie Vincent is Vincent Cusano, and Mark St. John is Mark Norton).
Strictly Formula: Why Sonic Boom and Monster ended up working out well. For the latter, they didn't even use anything digital, resulting in the decidedly old-school sound of the record.
Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss in 1980 with a similar animal motif make up (Compare Carr's Fox persona to Criss' Catman) and was also the shortest member in the line-up.
Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior) replaced Ace Frehley (The Space Ace) in 1982, and they were both the skinniest of their respective line-ups.
Tommy Thayer wears Ace Frehley's makeup, has a similar costume, sings his old songs (notably "Shock Me") in concert, and has a similar guitar solo setpiece, complete with fireworks. Although not as pronounced (due to his being behind a drumkit) Eric Singer wears Peter Criss's original makeup and sings his vocal parts (such as the lead on "Black Diamond") as well.
I don't need to get wasted - it only holds me back
Temporary Substitute: Before a 1997 concert, Peter Criss refused to go out on stage unless he was paid more. The band's solution? Put Criss' makeup on drum tech Ed Canon, introduce him at the beginning of the show, and rock on! Nobody in the audience asked for a refund, and Criss never missed another concert during his tenure with the group.
So as you please get on your knees There are no bills, there are no fees Baby, I know what your problem is The first step of the cure is... a kiss
Vocal Tag Team: Usually between Paul and Gene, but the rest is given a chance. Well, except for...
The Voiceless: Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John have the dubious honor of being the only two KISS ex-members to never sing lead vocals on at least one song; St. John being the only member to not even sing backing vocals.